FREMONT - Pediatricians have renewed the battle over toilet training. The truth is that the toilet training problem began with the introduction of the "superabsorbent" disposable diaper in 1985 or so. This incredibly articifial creation, with its "gel" that sucks up enormous amounts of urine, and leaves the baby's bottom dry, completely destroys the baby's sense of the cause and effect of wetting a diaper.
It is crazy to let this happen, encasing the baby in this weird environment for two years or more, and then expect the baby to train easily. It just doesn't happen. Some moms go to the good old -- and humane -- cotton diaper for training purposes, and it works because the diaper doesn't go on absorbing forever and the baby gets the picture after a while. But giving the baby cotton (which is clothing, rather than high-tech packaging for babies) from the BEGINNING is the intelligent thing to do. Not if you want to leave the baby in one diaper all day, which many parents currently do with disposables, but if you want the baby to develop normally and not miss out on an important early step in mastery of the world and self-confidence about it.
Ask anyone who knows, such as our local Montessori school director, whose school demands toilet training as a condition of enrollment. She has watched the average age of admission rise in the last 10-12 years from age 2-1/4 to almost 4, in exact synchronization with the increasing dominance of the superabsorbent diaper. She has also witnessed an enormous increase in toileting problems in the children who have trained late -- more accidents, and a greater tendency to retain feces. probably not going to change, because the disposable diaper is the single most important product of the world's biggest advertiser. But it SHOULD change.
Babies, parents, and the world deserve far better than the disposable diaper. And parents deserve to know that Brazelton, who advocates "taking it easy" about toilet training, received an enormous contribution from Procter & Gamble to his parenting lobby several years ago. There is too much hypocrisy, and too much harm to children, going on. Babies are being developmentally delayed, and they are also suffering drastically reduced attention from their parents and caregivers. Let's stop packaging them and start taking real care of them again.
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